Q&A with Todd Haley and Romeo Crennel

Posted Jan 14, 2010


TODD HALEY: “Good afternoon everyone. It’s with great pleasure and excitement that I announce Romeo Crennel as our defensive coordinator.

“Romeo is a coach that I obviously have experience coaching with in New York (Jets) in the late ‘90s and is a guy I have a great amount of respect for. He’s a guy that last year when I was offered this job and became the head coach of the Kansas City Chiefs was available and I had great interest in trying to make part of our staff. Romeo chose to sit out last year and just take a deep breath. This year, he has decided to put his chips back in, so to speak.

“I’m fortunate enough that Romeo wants to be part of my staff and I jumped at the opportunity to make him part of my staff. Again, I’m just really excited about being able to work again with Romeo. He has five Super Bowl rings. He’s one of the great coaches in my mind and is a guy that I’ve looked up to ever since I’ve known him, and honored that he would want to come work for the Kansas City Chiefs. With that, I’ll turn it over to Coach Crennel.”

ROMEO CRENNEL: “Good afternoon guys. I’m excited to be here at Kansas City. I was able to, as Todd said, take a breath last year. I had hip replacement surgery and when Todd talked to me last year about the possibility of coming, and he was willing to wait however long I needed, I thought it would be a disservice to him and his program to have to wait until basically June because with hip replacement, they tell you that after three months, you should be ok and I had it in February.

“I decided that I would take that deep breath that he mentioned and I told him I wasn’t available. This year, after sitting out for a year, I’m available. That breath has filled my lungs, my enthusiasm is up, my energy is up, my hip, there’s no pain in it, so I feel really good about being able to come in and trying to help build this program.

“Part of the reason is that I know many of the guys on staff. I know who they are, I know how they coach, I know how competitive they are, and I want to work with guys like that. The relationship that Todd and I have started back in New York, I saw him develop as a young coach on the field and grow in this profession and now he’s sitting here in charge of this program and I’m just excited about being able to try to help him.”

Q: What does this mean for Clancy Pendergast? He’s obviously no longer the defensive coordinator anymore. Do you anticipate that he’ll have a place on this team?

HALEY: “As I touched on, I got this job late in the game last year. My number one priority was getting good coaches on my staff, and as you all know, I wasn’t in a real hurry about naming any of those coaches to titles. There was a reason for that. Number one, I wanted good coaches. Clancy is one of those coaches, Gary Gibbs is one of those coaches, and obviously all my coaches are, and Romeo was one of those that I hoped was going to be one of those coaches, but he wasn’t able to get it done for the reasons stated. Now, I get a second opportunity to now make him one of those coaches. Again, that’s what this is about – finding good coaches that can take us or help take us where we want to go as a team, which is to be a good team year-in and year-out that plays in big games, to play in bigger games.

“It’s not a lot different than when I was the offensive coordinator last year. I have a lot of confidence in my abilities in that area, but when I had a chance to make Charlie Weis part of this staff and bring his vast experience and success into the mix, and provided the fit was correct, as is the fit with Romeo, it was very important that I made that move. And again, this is less probably about what we’ve done this year or results even of this year, this is about adding a quality, quality coach that I have a great amount of respect for, the league has a great amount of respect for, and adding him to our defensive staff to help make us a good team.

“He is the defensive coordinator. Clancy is part of my staff. We’re in that process, obviously, and there are some moving parts, and we’ll just kind of see how everything plays out. I want Clancy to be part of this staff, just as I did last year.”

Q: Do you anticipate Clancy will be part of your staff in the upcoming season?

HALEY: “As far as I’m concerned, if you’re asking what I want, yes. And Clancy and I have had some discussions and we’ll just have to see where it goes. At this time, I’m probably not informed enough to answer that question.”

Q: But Gary Gibbs is staying, correct?

HALEY: “Yes.”

Q: Obviously health concerns kept you out this past year, but did you watch the Chiefs with a different eye this year, did you pay attention to what they had on the roster and what their defense looked like?

CRENNEL: “Well, I didn’t spend a whole lot of time watching. I spent more time with (my wife) and with the family, so I didn’t get to watch as much football maybe as I wanted to watch. When I did see the Chiefs, I noticed that they played hard and there were several games that they were in at the end, overtime games, and toward the end of the season, they were pretty successful at the end of the season. Particularly in the last game, the team did a great job in that last game. In a situation when you’re not winning, players can toss it in just about at any point so I was impressed with the way they played in that last game. I think that there’s a good, young nucleus. We have to improve and add some players and we’re going to start doing that, but I think that this is a great opportunity to try to grow and develop a team.”

Q: What kind of defense will you run?

CRENNEL: “We’re going to be based in a 3-4, but we will not be limited to the 3-4. We can do some other things, which we will. We will mix things up as we need to. Each game plan is different and you have to look at your opponent to see what their strong points are and then what you think you need to do to take away their strengths and then try to take advantage of them that way.”

Q: As you were sitting out last season, was it your feeling that you would be joining the Kansas City Chiefs?

CRENNEL: “No, not really. I told everybody who had an interest that I was going to wait until the end of the season and see what opportunities were out there. I told them I would evaluate the opportunities and make a decision based on what was best for me at that time. In this business, you never know what is going to happen or if you are going to have an opportunity. I was just waiting to see and hoping that I did have an opportunity and so I did have some and Kansas City was one of those opportunities. I said, ‘ok, let’s go.’”

Q: Without naming names, were there other clubs that contacted you with interest?

CRENNEL: “There were a few lines in the water.”

Q: The Chiefs have changed defensive coordinators a number of times over the years. Why do you think bringing in Romeo will have an impact?

HALEY: “This is about adding good coaches, and that has been the number one goal going back to last year at this time of year or even a little later than this time of year.

“I think this is fact: you need players to win the big game and you need coaches. You can’t do it with just one or the other. If you have good players and you don’t have coaches that are capable of getting the job done, then you are probably not going to win the games that you want to win and vice-versa. I know that you have to have both and we are in the process already of working on the player side and we are obviously already working on a new coaching addition as we are talking here. I know that Romeo is a guy that I have a great amount of respect for and has the resume to back it up. He has been part of turning organizations around and turning teams that haven’t been able to win enough games and to make everyone happy, which is what will make us happy, winning the big game.

“This is an opportunity to add a guy that has been in the middle and I have been in the middle with him in New York. I know how he coaches, how competitive he is and how hard he works to reach that goal of winning the Super Bowl. That is what it is all about. Again, I can’t talk about the past, all I can talk about is now and I know that you need good coaches. I feel like we have a nice staff and one that we are continuing to work on.”

Q: Should Clancy Prendergast stay on with the Chiefs, what would he most likely do?

HALEY: “I would imagine he would be coaching a position. Again, we are adding another guy to the mix and Romeo is going to be in charge of the ultimate defense. but every one of those guys plays a critical role and I am fortunate enough that, last year and now this year, I have a bunch of guys who have run the defense before, guys that have been coordinators, some of them that have been head coaches, Romeo being one of those. If the fit is good and I know that everybody can work together towards the common goal then we have a chance to succeed and that is what is going on right now. I know Gary Gibbs is going to coach linebackers and Clancy was coaching the defensive backs last year, and that is where I would think he would stay.”

Q: What is your defensive philosophy? Are you more of an attack style or bend don’t break style defense?

CRENNEL: “I have been some of all of that. Like I mentioned before, we are going to base out of the 3-4 but I have been in games where we have gone in and played 70 percent zone. I have been in games where we have gone in and played 70 percent man, so it just depends on what the game plan is for that particular opponent. Basically it is going to be a combination of zone and man going in. Now how much we pressure or how much we don’t pressure is going to depend on the game plan primarily.”

HALEY: “I think that is a great question because there are some teams that are not game-plan teams and there are some teams that are. I would say that it is one thing that has been unique to this system on both sides of the ball that we are a game-plan team that is going to do whatever is necessary to win on both sides of the ball.”

Q: Coach Crennel, do you have any aspirations of becoming a head coach again in this league?

CRENNEL: “I think that is why many of us coaches are in this business, to get to the highest level possible. I think being a head coach is the highest level and if that opportunity came along again, I would definitely consider that. At the present time, the opportunity is to be the defensive coordinator for the Chiefs and that is what I am putting all of my energy into.”

Q: Coach Haley, can you talk about your coaching staff and any other prospects that may have an opportunity to come here?

HALEY: “I think we have shown in all areas, Scott (Pioli) and myself included, if we have chances to make the Kansas City Chiefs better, we will do what is necessary. Again, anyone that is out there we will talk about and what happens is another case. It is a case-by-case situation.”

Q: Coach Crennel, does it feel like old times coming back to work with GM Scott Pioli and newly-appointed offensive coordinator Charlie Weis, as well as Coach Haley?

CRENNEL: “Just a little bit. It is good to be back around those guys. On the offensive side of the ball I have worked with Bill Muir, Maurice Carthon, Richie Anderson, and Charlie Weis. With Todd (Haley) here, I know Scott (Pioli) and Chris Caminiti in administration and Dave Price, the trainer. All of that was important in my decision to come here and try to help build the program.”

Q: Coach Crennel, how do you begin this role as defensive coordinator even though you aren’t here to get started?

CRENNEL: “As it turns out, I am here. I’ve been meeting with the defensive personnel all morning and we will go back this afternoon and talk about the defensive players and their strong points, their weak points and what their prospects are for the future so I can get a better feel for the guys. Then, we as a staff can begin to plan for future acquisitions.”

Q: Coach Crennel, do you think sitting out a year gave you a different perspective that you didn’t have before?

CRENNEL: “I think the biggest difference is that there is a lot less pressure on Sunday afternoons. Being able to spend time with my wife, my kids and my grandkids was really great and as it turns out, was somewhat refreshing. From a mental standpoint, I am in a good mental frame of mind. Physically, I am in decent physical shape, I can still afford to lose a couple pounds, but so could a lot of the other coaches here. We are all going to get to work and try and get that done.”

Q: Coach Haley, are you going to put your coaching staff on a workout regiment similar to what you ask of your players?

HALEY: “Yes, we are going to do that, it just hasn’t started yet. As soon as we get a little down time.”

Q: Coach Crennel, are you starting officially now or are you waiting until after the Super Bowl?

CRENNEL: “I can come for an interview. This is an interview that we are running and interviews can take 10 minutes sometimes and interviews can take 10 days sometimes. We are able to get a little bit of things done, even though Todd (Haley) knows me quite well, it has been a couple years since we worked together so we have to go through a couple things.”

Q: Coach Haley, what are the qualities you enjoy most about having Romeo as your defensive coordinator?

HALEY: “You guys will see, those who haven’t been around him, Romeo is a great presence, has great leadership qualities and you can hear his voice. I have told Romeo that even after we all kind of broke up there in New York there were many days that I was put in situations and I thought, ‘how would Romeo react to this, or coached in this situation?’ He is that kind of a presence and one that I am really excited to have aboard and really honored. He had many other opportunities to think about and the fact that he would come and work for us, and for me, is a great honor because he is a guy that I really look up to and I’ll be able to lean on in a lot of different situations as I do a bunch of my other coaches.”